Genzebe Dibaba, showing magnificent composure over the final lap and a speedy finishing kick, won a star-studded women’s international race over 3km on Saturday (5) at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country, anIAAF Cross Country Permit Meeting.
Dibaba – the younger sister of Tirunesh, the three-time Olympic gold medallist, and Ejegayehu, a former Olympic 10,000m silver medallist – ran the finish out of the tired legs of fellow Ethiopian Meseret Defar in an epic clash around Holyrood Park.
The 20-year-old World Indoor 1500m champion, winner of the first of her two IAAF World Junior Cross Country titles at the same venue in 2008, covered the last kilometre in a speedy three minutes to dent the hopes of Defar, the 2012 Olympic 5000m champion.
The pair took off ahead of Linet Masai, Kenya’s three-time World cross-country silver medallist, who had injected pace at the beginning of the second circuit of the race, and a close battle seemed to be on the cards.
But Dibaba, a much more experienced performer at the winter discipline than Defar, hit the front with just under 400m remaining to cross the line in 9:46 with her countrywoman five seconds in her slipstream, while Masai took third in 9:55.
Dibaba had little to say apart from feeling it was an unexpected victory, but Defar was gracious in her praise after faltering when tremendous pressure was applied by her younger opponent at just the right time in the dash for the finish.
“She has the experience and deserved to win,” said Defar, making a rare cross-country outing. “This is my first for eight years and it’s good preparation for the outdoor track season. I also ran well against Vivian and Linet who are much more experienced at cross country.”
The trio were followed home by another Ethiopian, Olympic steeplechase bronze medallist Sofia Assefa who trailed Masai by a second, and a fifth African contestant Vivian Cheruiyot, the reigning World cross-country champion, who clocked 10:05. Read more